On March 15, 2017 the US Department of Justice announced that they were laying charges against four people accused of hacking four hundred Yahoo email accounts in 2014. Two of the accused are Russian intelligence officers and a third was in the US but has since fled to Russia. The fourth is one of our own, Hamilton native Karim Baratov, age 22.

Baratov has been roasted by media and law enforcement because he openly flaunted his love of luxury items online. When people asked how he could afford these things, his reply was that he was providing online services.

In the court of public opinion, it sounds like Baratov is guilty of the crimes he’s accused of, even though “online services” could mean everything from sexy video chats to tech support.

This article is not about Baratov. He is currently in jail awaiting his bail hearing in April and plans to fight his extradition to the US where he would face charges of conspiring to commit computer fraud and abuse, conspiring to commit access device fraud, conspiring to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

This article is about how we address hacking in Canada.

It should be said right off the bat that not all hacking is illegal. One of the definitions of hacking is writing computer programs for fun, which is not illegal if the programs are harmless.

The other definition of hacking is the one most people are most familiar with, which is the act of getting into a computer illegally.

Though it’s never called hacking in the Canadian Criminal Code, the section dealing with the crime is the one used to address mischief. That’s right; the laws against hacking are in the same place you find the law punishing leaving flaming bags of poop on doorsteps on Devil’s Night.

The crime of hacking in Canadian law is called “Mischief in relation to computer data” and is defined as willfully:

  • Detroying or altering computer data
  • Rendering computer data meaningless, useless or ineffective
  • Obstructing, interrupting or interfering with the lawful use of computer data
  • Obstructing, interrupting or interfering with a person in the lawful use of computer data or denying access to computer data to a person who is entitled to access to it.

The punishments are the same as for any other kind of mischief crime. If the act put a life in danger, you’re liable to spend life in jail. If the crime caused damages worth five thousand dollars or more, it’s an indictable offense with a maximum sentence of ten years in jail or a summary conviction which would mean six months in jail or a five thousand dollar fine. If the value of the damage was less than five thousand dollars, you’re facing either a summary conviction or an indictment with up to two years in jail.

Like many crimes, hacking is often done with intent to commit other crimes like fraud, theft, and unauthorized uses of credit card data. A person guilty of hacking could therefore also be found guilty of additional crimes, some of which – like fraud – carry stiffer penalties than mischief.

Canadian law also holds a person responsible if they counseled or made it easier for someone else to commit a crime and they can face the same penalty as the perpetrator who actually did it. They can also face those penalties if they knew or should have known the crime could be committed as a result of their actions or lack thereof.

Though Canadian governments have been criticized as being ill equipped to tackle computer crime, the government seems to be doing its best not only to protect itself from cyber-attacks but also to teach us to protect ourselves.

In 2010, the Harper Government launched the Cyber Security Strategy outlining a long term national plan to deal with computer crime. The website getcybersafe.gc.ca was created by Public Safety Canada and is full of guidelines for ordinary citizens and businesses with the goal of keeping Canadians safer by increasing awareness of common online threats and how to fight them. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center was created by a joint effort by the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, and the Competition Bureau to fight mass marketing fraud online and is regularly updated with information regarding popular scams.

Technology is advancing at a greater pace than ever and our governments are trying to catch up to protect the victims. The problem with their initiatives is that they seem to place most of the pressure to protect against cybercrime on potential victims, which could lead to victim-blaming even in cases where, due to age or infirmity, a person may not be tech savvy enough to take every precaution. Their plan needs work to put the onus back on law enforcement to protect against cyber-crime back on those charged with protecting us, but at least it’s there.

Last week’s Montreal snowstorm was quite the disaster. People stranded in cars on Highway 13 for hours, busses just not showing up, sidewalks still not cleared days later. It was a disaster on a political level and an institutional one. Fortunately, it was not a disaster on a human or social level.

That’s not how Andrew Potter and Maclean’s Magazine see it, though. In a much shared (primarily for the purpose of criticism) editorial, the Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada posited that the real culprits in last week’s snowmageddon were restaurants that gave two different bills, one for cash payments and one for “traceable” payments. Um, what?

I have lived in Montreal my entire life and I have never been offered a different fee depending on what payment method I chose for supper or drinks. Not saying there isn’t any sketch in Monteal’s service industry, just saying that if there is, it’s way smarter and nowhere near as obvious.

Regardless, how does this have any relevance to the issue he is discussing? Oh, yeah, it’s societal decline that led to what happened last Tuesday. People just not caring about their fellow human. No sense of community.

Clearly, Mr. Potter doesn’t have the faintest clue what he’s talking about. But I guess that doesn’t matter to right-leaning Maclean’s readers in the rest of Canada who just had their preconceived notions about Quebec and Montreal justified.

This “editorial” reads like something Potter wrote months ago and saved for an appropriate news item to come along that he could tie it to. Maclean’s must have been all too happy to get yet another article blaming Quebec culture for something.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of blame that should go around because of what happened last Tuesday. Blame our political leaders who let over 300 9-1-1 calls slide until 4am. Coderre and Couillard do have a lot to answer for. Blame their nonsensical attempt to pin what happened on a trucker who allegedly refused to be towed (unless he was stalled across all highway lanes, I fail to see how this is even an excuse).

Potter and Maclean’s let them off the hook. Instead, like the politicians, they pinned it on the community. My community.

Last Tuesday I remember seeing people helping to push cars stuck in the snow, taking people in who couldn’t make it home and stuff like this online:

Image via Facebook

That’s right, people getting out and pushing a bus that was stuck in the snow. That’s Montreal, that’s my community. Sure, we have our problems, but when the shit hits the fan, we pull together.

It’s a real shame that Maclean’s chose to publish the one guy in town who refused to see it that way, either out of ignorance or a desire to grind his favourite ax.  It truly is amateur hour.

“Nobody is superior, nobody is inferior, but nobody is equal either. People are simply unique, incomparable. You are you, I am I.” -Osho

I constantly have this deep seeded problem of not thinking I am in someone’s “league” or I am not their “type”. I can’t compare myself to people’s ex girlfriends or current obvious infatuations. But… she was thinner than me, bigger boobs, more covered in tattoos, shorter, less like a giant, perfect skin, more of this, less of that.

As a defense mechanism I don’t often allow myself fall for people because I know that I don’t have a “chance” and that’s so stupid. Especially if it’s someone I have known for a long time. I see their history, the people they often gravitate towards, they are nothing like me because they are unlike anyone but who they are. A lot of times people are attracted to those who share similar qualities as their selves.

I think to myself, why would she want me when her ex was so perfect? Well, she must have not been THAT perfect or they would still be together, right? You never know what kind of evil lurks inside someone who may be aesthetically good to look at.

I know that I am more than what I look like. How people are intimidated but I am timid. I am scared to open up my heart but not to take off my clothes. I will do more on the stage than I will in the bedroom due to insecurities of the flesh. I feel so awkward. I need to remind myself that everyone feels that way. Everyone is insecure, feels like they have something to cover up.

It’s also shitty for me to compare people to my exes, who are a varied group of humans. In theory I am attracted to tall men and a certain kind of woman. That is such bullshit, I’m calling myself out on it. How can I compare a man to a woman to someone who is trans or non-binary?

I would lie to say that someone’s looks do not play a part in it, but it is not everything. I love talent, people who are not afraid to let whatever their weirdness is out.

Everyone is so unique and special. I have to take the too shortness and too tallness, the too fatness and the not smart enoughness, the not right for me, not right now thoughts inside my brain and flush them down the toilet like a dead goldfish. These thoughts and insecurities are so foul and bad for the environment that they are like a toxic shock tampon clogging up the pipes.

That goldfish should have never been in a tiny bowl. It is not fair to trap beauty in a stagnant little space, on display, tap, tap, tapping on the glass. So beautiful yet so alone, knows nothing else.

“Would you rather be alone or with someone who makes you feel lonely?” – NYC Tinder Clown

Being by yourself is not lonely. I have felt alone in the arms of a lover because I cannot let go of my wall. I have felt alone in the arms of a lover because they built a wall so tall and strong that my love could not scale it. I have felt alone in the arms of a lover because there is no lover at all, never was, and I am swimming in the mote. I will not feel alone if I love the troll in the mote that is my home. I am a mud woman in search of her troll. Let’s writhe in our palace of filth!

My friend reminded me that people often overlook the things you think are a big deal. The hot cook where she works bent down and she was checking out his ass, his shirt came up in the back revealing a red patch of psoriasis, she noticed it but it did not make him any less appealing to her.

It’s like during a show when you think you fucked up a big move or moment, then everyone cheers anyways. They had no idea what your expectations of that performance were. You are the only one who knows anything was wrong.

All of the things you think are wrong about yourself are not a big deal to anybody else. Never compare yourself to what society wants you to look like. Even those perfect models are not happy in their skin.

 

Why do people seek out clones of themselves to date? Like it could only make sense if we “match”. I have been on dating sites nearly as long as I have been dating, what the fuck does that say?

As soon as the almighty internet came into place people started using it to have sex and find sexy things to look at. I wish to exist in a time without all of that, where people just meet and hang out and discover their attraction in person. It’s always so exciting and unexpected when you find yourself crushing on someone.

There is no guess in online dating. If the person is being honest, they have already told you their life story and ambitions and been put through a computer program with you to determine compatibility.

I have had my OK cupid profile for like eight years or something like that. My photos were all old, it hadn’t been updated, it still said “omnivore” and I am vegan. That is a big life change that the computer did not know about me.

It is interesting to see the things that haven’t changed. I still don’t want kids. I still have cats and like dogs. I am not still “bi-sexual” though, because I now realize that I never was, I am pansexual because I do not believe in the gender binary. Gender is fluid. Pansexual was not an option when I first set up the account and now it is. That’s an improvement, but still another sign of inaccuracy.

I still just take that experience as a realization that people are ever evolving. An online profile may have sort of represented that person in the moment that they made it, but things change. Minds change every moment. You have to chose to live in the now and realize when you have made a mistake.

No matter how sexy someone is, no matter how “great” their ass is, shit still comes out of it. Humans are all gross and weird, we all have pasts, we all have done things that we are ashamed of, we have all hurt and been hurt by others.

To compare my struggle to someone else’s doesn’t make sense, so why do I do it with my body? I am always so self conscious of my skin. I have psoriasis over most of my body. But its not really ruining my life, is it?

I still get paid to take my clothes off, I just don’t get down to bare skin. I keep my scaly legs and ass covered in fishnets. I get scared thinking that I will end up in bed with someone then in the morning they will see what the fishnets and ambient lighting have been hiding this whole time.

It’s true that you can’t compare humans, but the loves of my life currently are about 10 pounds and covered in fur. Cats > Humans. Nobody will love and cuddle me like my kitty babies. I need to just enjoy that, relish in the small things that are actually huge.

There is a blizzard of emotions within me. I am clouded by my own awareness. Not everything is about sex, but isn’t it natural to want sex? We all want to feel loved and desirable.

I am not an expert on anything, especially dating. I am experienced in heartbreak and general confusion. I have been broken up with, cheated on, made to feel less than I should.

I have felt alone in the arms of my “lover” because I knew they were waiting around for something better. Better is not thinner or less covered in scales, better is me loving myself more and realizing that all humans are flawed and perfect in their own right.

After a train exploded in 2013 in the small town of Lac Mégantic, killing 47, many of the mourning families turned to the American justice system in hopes of getting better compensation. Four years later, the three firms representing them have charged them around $40 million in total, despite doing virtually nothing, according to information gathered by Radio-Canada’s Enquête.

40 of the 47 families have contracts with the Garcia Law Group (GLG). According to Radio-Canada, they have paid them between 10 and 15 million so far, with nothing to show for it. The firm is based in Southern Texas and owned by Wilfrido Rogelio Garcia. It was first registered there only a month after the Lac Mégantic accident.

Despite what his clients believe, Garcia is not even a lawyer. In fact the only lawyer on the firm’s payroll seems to be his daughter, Maria Garcia. GLG’s modus operandi is to pressure grieving families to sign contracts, so they can resell their cases to lawyers.

“They said to me that with some plane crashes in Europe, [Garcia] or his people were there in less than 24 hours. They were proud of that,” said Michele Whitmore, who once worked on a contract with GLG, as quoted by Radio-Canada. Garcia found clients in the aftermath of at least four plane crashes, in Peru, Greece, Russia and Indonesia, where the number of casualties ranged from 48 to 129.

GLG was the first law firm to get to Lac Mégantic after the tragedy They approached the families of victims and invited them to meetings to convince them that GLG could seek justice for them through the American system.

Ginette Cameron, who lost her daughter Geneviève in the explosion, remembers Garcia asking her several times if she would like another mother to live through what she lived through. She and her husband signed the same day.

Experts agree that such behaviour is against every deontological code. According to Bill Edwards, a lawyer interviewed by Radio-Canada, it is plainly illegal. Reporters have been unable to speak to anyone from Garcia Law Group.

Enquête’s full report will air tonight at 9pm on Radio-Canada.

* Featured image: Google Street View of the address listed on the Garcia Law Firm PLLC website

On March 7, 2017 Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced plans to clean up the Canadian Criminal Code and rid it of “zombie laws”. If you think of zombie laws, you probably think of the rules one would have to follow during a zombie apocalypse. Sadly, zombie laws aren’t related to the undead, but they ARE interesting, and like the zombies in fiction, can be rather annoying.

Zombie laws are laws that are no longer in force but still technically, physically, on the books.

The issue of zombie criminal laws recently came up due to the case of Travis Vader, the man convicted of murdering two elderly people in Alberta. The judge sentenced him for culpable homicide aka second degree murder.

Unfortunately, culpable homicide no longer exists in Canadian criminal law, it’s a zombie concept. If you kill someone, you can only be convicted of murder or manslaughter.

The provision the judge used to convict him – section 230 of the Criminal Code – had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1990. Vader’s lawyers argued for a mistrial, but fortunately for the safety of everyone, they did not get one. The judge in question instead sentenced Vader to life for two counts manslaughter.

This is not the first time zombie laws have caused problems. Though the law prohibiting anal sex for people under the age of eighteen has been ruled unconstitutional by appeals’ courts, there are claims that sixty-nine people have been charged with the offense between 2014 and 2015.

Stephen Coughlan, Professor at Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax came up with a list of zombie criminal laws. These laws include:

  • Spreading false news: This provision of the Criminal Code was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1992 for violating constitutional protections of freedom of expression.
  • Vagrancy: This was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1994 in R v. Heywood for violating the constitutional rights to life, liberty, and security of the person, and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • Procuring a miscarriage aka abortion: Struck down by the Supreme Court in 1988 in R v. Morgentaler

Restrictions also still on the books include those against dueling, fraudulently pretending to practice witchcraft, and crime comic books – yes, crime comics used to be illegal.

The Canadian Criminal Code is over eight hundred forty nine provisions long.

Law enforcement, prosecutors and judges rely on it to determine who to arrest, who to charge, how to convict, and how to sentence a person for a crime. Though people in the legal and law enforcement professions are expected to stay up to date in their field, it’s impossible to keep track of every law and many will still look it up when in doubt.

If a law in a text they rely on to inform them has been declared unconstitutional but was never actually removed from that text, mistakes like the one in the Travis Vader case are inevitable, because the source material they rely on – and should rely on – is full of mistakes.

So why haven’t federal governments worked to remove these laws sooner?

The most likely reason is because governments are busy and removing something from a body of law as vast as the Canadian Criminal Code takes a lot of work they don’t have the time for.

In order to amend the Criminal Code, the government will have to present a bill calling for the changes. That bill will have to outline every single zombie provision and when it was struck down, declared unconstitutional, or why it’s not used anymore. That means that someone or a group of someones will have to go through the Criminal Code and the Canadian judicial system’s vast body of case law to determine which ones are zombie provisions. The extensive work of Professor Stephen Coughlan on the subject will undoubtedly be a useful starting point.

Once the bill is drafted, it will have to go through the same grueling process every other federal law has to go through. That means that it will have to be formally presented to Parliament, debated, debated again, and voted on. If it passes, it will have to go to the Senate for its own round of debate and votes. Either house can kill the bill.

If the law proposing to update the Criminal Code is passed, the next step is arduous process of actually doing it. That means not only removing the zombie provisions but also going over the Code in its entirety to make sure the text is clear and consistent through and through. There’s also the issue of where the current Criminal Code will stand while the updates are in the works.

Though the process is going to be a long and annoying one, removing zombie laws is a necessary job that’s long overdue. The difficulties will come not only in drafting and passing a law to actually do it, but in figuring out an efficient way to do it without leaving dangerous voids in our legal system.

Will the Federal government’s plan work? Only time will tell.

Today I was handing out free bananas with a group of people dressed like bananas.  We are part of a group called Waste Not Want Not, saving food from landfills. Saving peoples smiles from being forgotten.

The song Banana Phone was blasting, it was magical. Most people smiled, most people hugged us back, people love free things, people deserve free food.

One man came up at the very end, after we had already handed out 650 pounds of rescued bananas (in one hour). We had none left, he looked disappointed.

Then I remembered the one I had stashed in the pocket of my rainbow sweater. I handed it to him. He said “no thanks, that banana has been through A LOT.” Sure, it was a little bruised, but bruises make it more delicious. I am who I am because of what I have been through. I am proud of my darkspots. Character is brilliance.


Haven’t we all been through A LOT? Could you imagine being disregarded because you had a few bruises? I found a second banana on the ground that was “too green” therefore not good enough to keep, even for free. Someone didn’t have the patience to wait for the ripening.

Can you imagine giving up on someone for not being ripe enough? Not being educated or old enough for consideration. I say give everyone and every banana a second look, don’t just throw nourishment in the dumpster.

We all have bruises, scars, scabs, things that ooze and smell funny, bits of ourself that we might want to hide away, but can’t because they are the fiber of our humanity. We are all broken. We are all bruised bananas, so sweet and ready for hungry bites. All the bread of revolution, with nuts.

Even if it is mushy, it is perfect, it is lovable. The darker the skin the sweeter the fruit, never forget that.

On Monday the Orange Administration released a new Executive Order. We all knew it was coming, for no sooner had courts struck down the original Muslim ban when the White House promised a new and improved version. It was supposed to be signed and released last week, but then something strange happened.

In his first joint-address to Congress, the Lint-Covered-Cheeto President surprised everyone by acting like a gentleman. There was no blustering, there was just a man-child giving a speech. Reporters hailed his behavior as being truly “presidential” and the White House opted not to ruin the wave of good faith by releasing the new ban immediately afterward.

No matter what the new travel ban says, it will never outshine the atrocities committed in the first ban’s name. It will never outshine the baby who was denied entry for life-saving surgery (a lawmaker intervened on the child’s behalf when the story leaked so she was saved in the end), or the child separated from his mother for hours, or the old lady who was denied a wheelchair under the enforcement of the first Executive Order. It will never undo the widespread outrage from ordinary citizens and the legal community.

Now it’s time to look at the new Executive Order.

This order replaces the previous one and provides something the first order was sorely lacking: clarifications.

The first Executive Order was so vague no one seemed to know how to enforce it. As a result, people in positions to abuse it did and people with valid documents to enter the US from permanent residents to workers to famous authors and ex diplomats with legit visas were denied or delayed.

The new Executive Order provides a list of people deemed exceptions to its travel restrictions. Among the exceptions are lawful permanent residents, foreign nationals with valid visas or other documents allowing them to legally enter the US, people with dual citizenship, and those on diplomatic visas. Also exempt are foreign business people and workers, foreign nationals granted asylum or refugee status, children needing urgent medical care, and people legally admitted to the US to stay with family.

The new Order also does something the other did not: it condemned Islamophobia.

Unfortunately, the new Order does it in the most petulant way possible by defending the previous Executive Order with a none-too-subtle “we didn’t mean it that way!” response to the displays of Islamaphobia that had ensued.

Section 1 of the new order says:

Executive Order 13769 did not provide a basis for discriminating for or against members of any particular religion. While that order allowed for prioritization of refugee claims from members of persecuted religious minority groups, that priority applied to refugees from every nation, including those in which Islam is a minority religion, and it applied to minority sects within a religion. That order was not motivated by animus toward any religion, but was instead intended to protect the ability of religious minorities — whoever they are and wherever they reside — to avail themselves of the USRAP in light of their particular challenges and circumstances.

This petulant tone is consistent throughout the beginning of the new Executive Order as section 1 is full of justifications and excuses for the first ban.

On the bright side, it also includes a subtle acknowledgment that the White House would never succeed in the courts had they continued to try and enforce the first Executive Order. The provision that replaces the first order with the current one says that it is “in order to avoid spending additional time pursuing litigation”.

People generally back out of legal disputes to due amicable resolutions, lack of funds, or the fact that they know they can’t win. The former two do not apply here.

Then there’s the list of countries banned.

One would hope that a new improved travel ban would include limitations on some of the countries that actually produce terrorists. Those states widely acknowledged as such include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Lebanon, Turkey, and Kuwait. Sadly, none of these countries are on the list of limited countries as the new Order maintains limitations on Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia from the previous version.

However, this new Order tries to back up this list with facts cherry-picked in part from the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2015 (June 2016). The Order does not state where the rest of its justifications come from.

It maintains the discretion of the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to make exceptions to the ban and like the previous Order, gives them extra responsibilities. The Order requires them with the Director of National Intelligence to review and identify countries from which more information is needed about their people before they are admitted to the US. Once they make the list, they have to ask the countries for information and if they don’t get it in a certain amount of time, the country’s people won’t be admitted to the US.

The new Executive Order was an opportunity for the White House to redeem itself. They could have limited nationals from countries that actually produce a lot of terrorists. They didn’t. They could have used actual facts to back their rules and claims, but they didn’t.

The White House did however do one very important thing which to specify who the ban does not apply to, leaving less room for racists and xenophobes with rubber gloves and metal detectors to arbitrarily bar or detain people they don’t like. In that sense, this new order is new and improved.

I love boobs. All sizes, shapes, colors, big nipples, little dime nipples, hairy boobs, round boobs, perky or saggy, squished in a bra, on my face, or naked in the sun, I love boobs.

It is strange to me how a part of the body is so obsessed over as these bags of fun are. They are mother’s milk, sacred life giving pillows, warmth, comfort, safety, and love.

I share my boobs for a living, I promote their loveliness and love the unique breasts I am privileged enough to see on a regular basis. I touch my boobs in my shirt often. I haven’t worn a bra in over a year, and the only one who has ever called me out on my nips showing is my own mother.

Boobs are so hypersexualized and that often times a woman’s “worth” is placed on what her breasts look like. I want to compile every kind of human’s thoughts on their own boobs/chest and how society fetishizes them in general.

It is important to think about how others view their own bodies and strive for things that some of us take for granted- trans woman, women with implants, a non binary human who binds their breasts, and a transman who had top surgery. It must be an incredible feeling to have your body finally match the gender of your soul.

My grandmother had one breast, she was a cancer survivor. She told me the story of how she went in for a routine check up and then that day was under the knife, she was so confused and scared. My grandfather didn’t know how significant this was. It was in the 1980s.

No woman should ever have to feel so scared. I have seen burlesque dancers with one breast proudly swinging their tassel. It means they survived, they are proud of their body no matter what people say.

Dahlia Dubois- Stripper, Artist, Badass…

On being a stripper with natural breasts:

“I feel like it really depends on what area you’re working in and what type of club you’re at. Like if you were working at the Hustler club it would be almost expected that you would have some form of breast augmentation. But as far as my experience here, it’s really a 50-50 crapshoot. I’ve only ever had one customer tell me my breasts were too small and that was as I was giving him a lap dance so clearly I must’ve not been that bad hahahaha Although I feel like I do want to get augmentation done but not to an excessively large level. Because I do feel like that would increase my profits.”

 

 

Colleen Dunphy- Writer, Burlesque Dancer , Model…

“I had my breast reduction 11 years ago and I know without a doubt that if I hadn’t done it I’d never be doing the things I do today. I would have never become a half marathon runner, I’d never have done nude modeling and I definitely wouldn’t perform burlesque.

My breasts made me very uncomfortable with my body, and especially the attention I got. I still get some of that now because I am still a DDD, but it’s not like it was before.

Getting the reduction took a huge weight off my shoulders, literately and figuratively. I had some body dysphoria right after my surgery, because it was such a big change so quickly. I lost 4lbs from each side. But eventually I was able to become comfortable in my skin.

I have some mental sensitivity with the scarring when I am first with a new partner, because I had someone have a really negative reaction right after my surgery, but that was the only one. I am actually working on getting the worst ones tattooed over now.

I still have some nerve damage, where it doesn’t feel the same as it does in areas above or below. But I actually have more nipple sensation now than I did before surgery.

I’ve been told I won’t be able to breast feed, and that was something I willingly gave up. Even through everything I’ve never had any regrets about my decision and I know without a doubt I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I welcome anyone that wants to talk about it, or is interested in having one. I wish I’d had more people to talk to before I had mine. But it was before the major rise of social media and I just didn’t know where to go for that.”

Janna Willoughby-Lohr – Mother, Poet, Rapper.. 

“My view of the world as a woman as it pertains to my body has changed dramatically throughout my life…from a pre-teen girl when I didn’t even have enough boobs to hold my training bra down, just begging the great beyond to gift me with some curves…to a supple 20-something with cleavage for days who could (and did) rock any low-cut top I could find and often found myself admiring my own boobs in the mirror…to a 30-something nursing mother with 34G breasts that are no longer the same as they were, trying desperately to find a bra that actually fits and longing for the days where I could get away with low cut tops.

I used to want to be wanted for my body, before I knew better. Now that I’m a mom, I see how many ways the world blames women for being too sexual…or not being sexual enough…all at the same time.

I am proud to be a woman, and I’m proud of my boobs that have been able to feed my child for almost two years and even though I sacrificed my amazing cleavage to do so, I still love my body. As Baz Luhrmann says, ‘Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it. It is the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.”

In movie treason trials, a person facing a cruel, usually male, judge and screaming prosecutors is accused of betraying their country while they plead innocence and national loyalty. Sometimes the trial will end in a hanging, other times it will end by firing squad, and still others end with electrocution. Rarely is the accused set free.

In real life, treason cases are a lot more complex.

Despite the enhanced vigilance of Canadian and American law enforcement in the face of terrorism, people are rarely prosecuted for treason.

Since Canadian and American criminal laws have their roots in the British legal tradition, it’s time to look at how we and our southern neighbors define the crime and how it should be prosecuted.

In Canada, treason is defined in our Criminal Code.

There are two types of treason: regular, called simply treason and high treason.

High treason is defined as committing one or all of the following acts if you are a Canadian citizen:

  • Killing or attempting to kill the Queen (Canada’s de jure head of State) or causing bodily harm leading to her “death or destruction”
  • Maiming, wounding, imprisoning, or restraining the Queen
  • Making or Preparing for War Against Canada
  • Assisting an enemy at war with Canada or assisting any armed forces Canadian forces are fighting regardless of whether those armed forces are at war with Canada

Treason is defined by one or all of the following acts:

  • Using force or violence to overthrow the Canadian government or the government of a province
  • Communicating “without lawful authority” scientific or military information or sketches, plans, or documents of a scientific or military character that you knew or ought to have known could be used by an agent of another state against Canada
  • Conspiring to commit the above and manifesting an intention to go through with it via an overt act
  • Conspiring to commit high treason and manifesting an intention to commit it by an overt act. Conspiring with a person to commit treason is considered an overt act.

The law not only defines the crime itself and the penalties, but also who can be convicted of either kind treason and under what circumstances.

According to the Criminal Code, the rules on treason apply to Canadian citizens.

A crime of high treason can be committed while in or outside of Canada, as can acts of regular treason.

A conviction for high treason carries the penalty of life in prison.

The penalty for regular treason is a bit more complex.

If you’re convicted of using force or violence against Canadian government or province with the intent to overthrow it, it’s life in prison. The penalty is the same for communicating military or scientific information, documents etc. knowing or having ought to know that they could be used by another country or even conspiring to do so and manifesting intention to carry it out by an overt act while Canada is at war with that country. If you communicate or conspire to communicate this stuff when Canada is not at war, the penalty becomes a maximum of fourteen years in jail.

The penalties for treason are heavy in Canada as in most countries, so the rules of evidence and procedure are extremely strict in these cases.

Proceedings against people accused of violent attempts to overthrow the government have to take place three years or less after the alleged crime was committed. For overt acts of treason, the words of information expressing the overt act have to be laid under oath before a justice within six days of the alleged overt act, and a warrant for the person’s arrest has to be issued within ten days of that.

There can be no conviction for treason on the evidence of only one witness unless that witness’ testimony is corroborated my material evidence.

Only two people in Canadian history have been tried and convicted of treason.

The first is the Métis leader Louis Riel, who was hanged in eighteen eighty five.

The lesser known, Kanao Inouye aka the Kamloops Kid, was responsible for interrogating and torturing Canadian Prisoners of War in Japanese occupied Hong Kong during the Second World War. He was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by a British war crimes court, but his lawyer successfully appealed on the grounds that Inouye was a Canadian citizen and therefore could not be considered a war criminal. Inouye was instead tried for treason and hanged by the British Hong Kong Supreme Court in 1947.

In the United States, the laws regarding treason are similar. As the nation was born in defiance of the British Monarchy which had been known to charge people of the crime willy nilly, the crime of treason is clearly and strictly defined in the US Constitution.

Article III, section 3 of the constitution defines treason as:

“…levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

As in Canada, the rules for a conviction on the charge of treason in the US are strict. American law requires the testimony of two witnesses to the crime or a confession in open court to convict someone of treason.

As in Canada, convictions for treason are rare. Most civil war veterans, for example, were granted amnesty by the US government instead of facing treason charges. In some cases, such as that of Iva Toguri D’Aquino, the trials and investigations were corrupt and ultimately resulted in presidential pardons and apologies.

The penalty for treason in the US can be imprisonment or death.

With the implications of treason so heavy, it’s no wonder people are rarely charged with the crime. However, with the revelations of the Orange Administration’s willful conspiring with the Russian government to corrupt their elections and push an agenda hurting the American people, the only question left is whether law enforcement in the south will grow a pair and prosecute those clearly guilty of the crime.

Hyperfast digital force blasting from all directions.. This reality is a twisted science fiction novel, it is a bad episode of Black Mirror, it is terrifying and exhilarating. I have a hard time thinking about anything other than impending doom. 1984 looms over us like a set of guidelines instead of a dystopian nightmare that it really is.

I was born in 1986, two years after doomsday. Imagine being born now? What will children born now get to see? Humanity is crumbling like a gingerbread house on Valentines’s Day.

I often think we are just a figment of some dark overactive imagination. I don’t know if it’s comforting or terrifying to think that we are so small and vast at the same time, all contained within a teardrop or fleeting moment. Big brother is watching, but I am an only child.

I am NOT the center of any universe and I am not going to be shut down. I am just a satellite revolving around a rock in space. Sex is on the backburner. I haven’t written about love in awhile because it hasn’t been a concern of mine.

I am sick of thinking about what other people are thinking about me. Does he like me? Does she think I’m sexy? Does he want me? Does she like “like” me? Or naw? I’m confused, I know I am worthy so why isn’t this easier? There is so much more.

I worry too often about what people think of me. I should spend less time dreaming about a mate and more time dreaming about the changes I need to spearhead immediately. Most of those changes reside within myself, I control my own destiny still right?

I am an artist. I am a catalyst. I am a psychedelic force to be reckoned with. I will not give up just yet. Put light on shaded issues, shed safety on the lonely, and make people feel loved with open arms, hearts, and kitchens.

Go on walks and say hello to everyone you see. Have random conversations with people, you never know who you will talk to. People are interesting and vast pools of knowledge, we need to learn from each other. It is like eating local honey, getting exposed to the native pollen of your people, the collection of ideas from your neighbors. It is happening all around you, be a bee, do not let yourself become extinct.

Nobody will protect you, certainly not the oppressive government. Nature is not safe, resist, do more than cut the plastic rings from pop cans. Do not endanger the species of the open hearted, the free spirited youth that lives in us all.

We are the colorful tag in the garbage dump. We are the spot of glitter in a dustpan. Sparkle. We must defy the ban on individuality that is keeping us on a blank slate, we must graffiti it with importance, messages of revolution and distinction. Rebellion is necessary, the thought police will not take me, not without a fight of mass proportions. Be dirty, be bold, stop for no one.

Art is not a lost dream. I met two different people today that had a dream of being in the arts before giving up and going into law. They were both staying in the hostel taking the NYS Bar exam, which of course is hard. If it wasn’t difficult they wouldn’t want it so bad.

So many people who stayed here are the ones who will change the world. One went to school in NYC- the same school that Woody Allen went to- to study film. He said it was just expensive and cut throat. The beauty he wanted to capture was clouded by the dark reality of the world. He gave up due to the competition and greed, then went into law where that just doesn’t exist, haha. Another girl was a theatre major and then switched to law when she didn’t see any money in the arts.

I knew there would be no money, but who needs that when you have passion and motivation? I am in the process of helping to organize a show for Women’s Month, and I have the chance to make sure it is Intersectional and all inclusive. This is revolution! Taking charge and make sure things are right.

Sometimes you just need a walk around the block. Breathe in the global warming induced indian summer. I feel so satisfied. Former cow a year now vegan. Former stage fright now fearless ONLY on the seduction of the stage, the lights amplify my rage. I will never dance in a cage.

I must sing, the cat on the outside of the bars salivating for the soft sweet feast. Gently weeps the trapped Bird of paradise. Watching you trip so eloquently getting older, under the sea vagina fish. Why are you barking? Untamed growing beast trying to assert her dominance. A squeaky toy that has been de-squeaked. Torn to shreds a dead interlude, a break between bliss. Better than silence.

I can’t go to a Black Lives Matter rally and then go to a white supremacist’s birthday party. I want to enter radio station contests and go on internet dates. I am an island in a golden sea of polyamarous couples. I am a dumpster orange now in the back of a car filled with protest signs. I am now important fuel for the revolution. It will be fed.

Feast on waste. Alternative and creative sustainability. I love my furry family. I met a woman who was me in the future, she lived above a bong shop and dated men half her age. We agreed that most animals are better than people and androgyny is beautiful. Hey! Look! My cat did all the dishes! When was the last time your boyfriend did that?

Moms Demand Action New York State Chapter Leader Jaime Levy Pessin is a modern and efficacious woman living in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children. As I enter her home for the interview I witness a person who makes multi-tasking seem as natural as waking up each morning.

As interview starts, some Moms Demand Action business is taken care of, a call answered, her daughter Cora and son Noah’s activities are settled and their dinner is prepared. This all happens over the course of maybe two minutes and Jaime is calm and polite as we get down to some questions.

S- For readers new to Moms Demand Action give us a brief history of the organization.

J- Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was founded the day after the horrific Sandy Hook shooting, which left six educators and 20 six and seven year-olds dead in their elementary school. A mom in Indiana, Shannon Watts, started a Facebook page with the idea that we needed to have a Mothers Against Drunk Driving for the gun violence prevention movement. And her page spread like wildfire.

New York City was one of the first chapters to form. Weeks later we held our first annual march across the Brooklyn Bridge. More than 1,000 people showed up in below-freezing temperatures to march with us.

Since then, we’ve grown to 3 million members in all 50 states. We’ve joined forces with Mayors Against Illegal Guns under the umbrella of Everytown for Gun Safety. We are a nonpartisan, grassroots group committed to passing reasonable, evidence-based laws that are proven to reduce gun violence.

Do you know Shannon Watts and in what ways is she still involved in Moms Demand Action today?

I first met Shannon at our first Brooklyn bridge march. She has since turned into a great figurehead of the movement. She is a volunteer and founder.

Shannon travels the country and meets the other volunteers. She does speaking engagements, does press and fundraisers. As she is traveling she makes a point of stopping by and seeing what all the other volunteers are doing. She has really gotten to know all the people across the country who are working as part of this thing that she created.

I think she is still a little bit baffled that she started this movement but Shannon is always very adamant in pointing out how much every person has played a part in it. She doesn’t view Moms as her creation, she sees it as if she did this one small action and then everyone else kinda filled it in throughout the country.

This is what is so cool about volunteering with Moms. There is a sense that every single person has something to contribute. Whether you have ten minutes or ten hours there is a place for you. She wants to make sure that message comes through.

Can you tell us what led you to your role as a leader in Moms Demand Action -New York?

In the days after the Sandy Hook shooting, I was devastated. I didn’t personally know anyone affected, but a six-year-old boy named Noah was killed. My son is named Noah and was four at the time. I was paralyzed by fear and grief. During that time, Shannon’s Facebook page somehow popped into my newsfeed, and I had a realization: If I am not part of the solution, then I’m part of the problem. And that’s when I started volunteering.

In the early days, we really were a motley crew of volunteers – “accidental activists” is what we called ourselves, because none of us had ever done anything like this before. My career had been as a journalist for traditional media, so I was never allowed to publicly express a political opinion – forget about planning a rally or meeting with elected officials!

I’ve been involved in the organization in a bunch of different roles since we got started. I currently run the New York state chapter, which is massive compared to how we began!

But another project that I helped start, which I think is truly special, is our Mother’s Dream Quilt Project. It’s a series of quilts that incorporates fabric from victims and survivors of gun violence. We hold quilting bees around the country that bring together victims, survivors and everyday Americans who believe we can do a better job of preventing gun violence.

With all the concerns about civil rights coming up around the Trump administration, why do you think gun violence is so important?

After the election, I did a lot of soul-searching around this question. In a way, this seems like such a small piece of the puzzle.

“I’m going to fight like hell to push back the kind of stand your ground laws that allowed Trayvon Martin’s killer to suffer no consequences.”

But then I realized: I’m worried about voter suppression; the idea of people with guns showing up at the polls to intimidate other citizens is chilling. I’m worried about immigration; what does it mean to have vigilantes with guns patrolling the border?

I’m worried about hate crimes against the LGBTQ community, and I’m worried about violence against women; we know that the presence of a gun in these situations makes them vastly more dangerous. And I’m worried about the unfair treatment of African-Americans in this country, so I’m going to fight like hell to push back the kind of stand your ground laws that allowed Trayvon Martin’s killer to suffer no consequences.

Can you tell us both about your personal experience and Moms Demand Action’s presence at the Women’s March in DC on January 21st?

I thought the Women’s March was so inspiring. I met a few fellow volunteers at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn at 4 a.m., and there was bus after bus after bus loading up for DC.

Moms Demand Action had nearly 1,000 members come in from around the country to join the march. Being in a crowd with so many passionate citizens gave me hope that this administration will not break our spirit.

I think the key takeaway, though, was that it’s not enough to march. It feels really good, and it’s important, but we have to take it home to our communities and get involved in our local politics.

We need more women running for office, whether for school board or Congress. We can’t just pay attention when it’s time to elect a president – we need to start developing a bench. So I hope – and I think that it’s happening – that the march has compelled people to start working seriously in our own neighborhoods.

What are some of the highlights of Moms Demand Action-New York’s current six month plan?

The new administration is in the pocket of the gun lobby; the NRA contributed more than $30 million to Donald Trump’s campaign – they were his single largest donor. So we are going to be working very hard to push back against the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda of guns everywhere for everyone.

“What’s crazy is that more than 90 percent of Americans – and that includes 87 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of gun owners – agree that we should have background checks on all gun sales.”

One of the major pieces of legislation we expect to be fighting is something called “concealed carry reciprocity.” The gun lobby would like for permits to carry concealed weapons to be treated like driver’s licenses, where one state’s permit would be recognized across all state lines.

Here’s the problem: The standards for getting a concealed carry permit vary wildly from state to state. In New York, you have to undergo a background check, submit character references and show a proven need to carry a concealed weapon in order to get that permit. In Arizona, there are no permitting requirements at all. New Hampshire also just rolled back their already weak permitting program.

With reciprocity, a New Yorker who couldn’t pass the rigorous standards here could travel to another state, get a concealed carry permit and legally carry a hidden weapon in Times Square or on the subway.

As a New Yorker, this is a direct threat to my safety. The idea that “guns everywhere” make people safer is patently untrue. New York State has one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country. We also have one of the lowest rates of gun ownership, and some of the strongest gun laws. There is a direct correlation: stronger gun laws keep us safe from gun violence. Concealed carry reciprocity would make our state a much more dangerous place to live.

Another priority for the New York chapter is going to be relationship-building with our elected officials at the statehouse. We’re planning our first-ever Lobby Day this spring, and we’re going to be meeting in-district with our representatives as well.

We believe that, much like the same-sex marriage movement, the gun violence prevention movement will win at the state level. We want to continue to develop relationships with our state representatives to make sure that they will keep New York at the forefront of sound gun policy.

Our overarching goal is to ensure background checks on all gun sales in the United States. Many people don’t realize that the law as it stands leaves gaping loopholes in the system, making it very easy for a felon or a domestic abuser to purchase a gun without a background check. And background checks are proven to work: suicides, cop killings and domestic violence-related deaths all go down in states that ensure background checks on all gun sales.

What’s crazy is that more than 90 percent of Americans – and that includes 87 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of gun owners – agree that we should have background checks on all gun sales. When you take the question of gun violence directly to the citizens, they will vote in favor of common-sense gun reform.

In 2016, despite the dismal election results nationally, we actually won three out of four ballot initiatives by asking residents of California, Nevada and Washington State to pass stronger gun laws. It was one of the few bright spots in the progressive agenda last year.

We have quickly become the strongest counterweight the gun lobby has ever seen. That’s why we’re committed to getting this message to our elected officials: The other side is scared of losing their guns. We’re scared of losing our children. Who do you think is going to win in the end?

What are some things the modern, busy adult can do to stand against gun violence?

What is great about Moms Demand Action is that we offer so many different entry points for people to get involved. You can spend five minutes a week signing petitions and calling your senators, or you can get more deeply involved and meet with your elected officials or plan events. We need all levels of commitment.

The first thing you should do is text JOIN to 644-33, or visit our website to officially sign up as a member. Soon you’ll hear from someone in your local chapter about ways to get involved. Like the national organization on Facebook (or the New York chapter) and follow us on Twitter (@momsdemand) to get national calls to action.

For students, recent grads and parents: Did you know the gun lobby is pushing to allow guns on college campuses and K-12 schools? We defeated 16 guns on campus bills throughout the country in 2016. But the gun lobby is going to keep trying, and we’re preparing to fight. Ask any educators you know to join our Educators for Gun Sense campaign by sharing the link.

For people who want to spend an hour or so a week volunteering for a good cause, consider joining the Gun Sense Action Network. We do a lot of phone banking to voters in states that are playing defense against horrible bills.

This makes a huge impact. Last year, for example, the Georgia statehouse passed a sweeping guns-in-schools bill. We were able to drive at least 30,000 calls to the governor’s office, and eventually he vetoed the bill – even though he’s typically an ally of the gun lobby. People who join our Gun Sense Action Network can make calls from home, on their own time!

(ED’s Note: While most joining options are for Americans living in the US, making calls is, of course, open to Americans living abroad and Canadians as well)

How many people in America die from a gun each day?

Moms treat gun violence like a public health epidemic, which it is. What disease kills 93 Americans a day? That’s too many people so we should treat it as such. Unfortunately, Congress has barred the CBC from actually studying gun violence. The US government doesn’t actually study this even though it is a public health problem.

One thing that many people don’t realize is how prevalent gun violence is in our country. About 30,000 people a year are killed by gun violence in the U.S. – 93 a day. Twice that number are injured every day. But I think it’s the ripple effect that really makes the point.

A study came out recently that said the probability of knowing a gun violence victim is 99.85 percent. Think of that: Nearly every single American will know a victim of gun violence in their lifetimes! That’s insane.

I’ve seen it play out personally. When I started volunteering for Moms Demand Action, I didn’t know anyone (as far as I knew) who had been a victim of gun violence. But since December 2012, I have had one friend on lockdown with her daughter at the Kansas City JCC while a shooter killed two people in the parking lot. My sister’s childhood friend was shot and killed in his car in Miami. One of my husband’s relatives lost her granddaughter when the granddaughter’s husband shot her in front of their two kids in California. A close friend of mine was at the Fort Lauderdale airport baggage claim with her three kids when a gunman opened fire.

It just gets closer and closer. That’s what keeps me up at night, and that’s what motivates me to keep going.

 

We live in a time where it is easy to lose track of the goodness and color. A vast diversity of humanity exists in a world where crushing greed and extraordinary evil are mainstream.

We live in a time where racism is prevalent and children starve in the streets, we live in a world where dumpsters are filled with flowers and fresh oranges, and we need to remember the art. We need to contemplate beauty as much as we absorb the daily hate crimes and oppression from all angles.

We need to pause the anger so we can hug random strangers in the street. We must pet dogs with fingerless gloves and smile back at little children. We must say hello to our neighbors and engage the community with open arms.

How can you participate in activism? Be active! The first step to making a change is to just go for it! Feed people, tell them you love them, make their day happy on purpose.

Everyone is beautiful and deserves flowers! Flowers have magic powers. People always grabbed them to share with others too, spreading smiles that would have just been rotting in a dump otherwise.

After major Hallmark holidays stores throw out garbage bags and buckets full of beautiful bouquets of flowers. Waste Not Want Not and Food Not Bombs are two Freegan groups that I am involved with that go into the dumpsters and salvage things like produce and flowers from landfills.

This is our second time handing out free flowers. I wrote a similar blog last year and was inspired to do so again because it is important, check out Dumpster Diving for Sustainability.

I haven’t gone dumpster diving in a while. Well, I am more of a spectator because I feel like if I climbed in I would not be able to get out. I should get a step stool. A head lamp and work gloves are also important. Bring boxes and garbage bags for the haul.

Look for food that is in sealed packaging or fruits and veggies with a tough outer skin that can be washed. Most smaller grocery stores do not have compactors, so if they leave their dumpsters unlocked you are good to go.

It is incredible what people are going through. A little bit of joy can change the world.

The other day we had a burlesque show and a man who was in the military, suffering from PTSD and suicidal thoughts, came to it and told us that he felt better after seeing our show! The comedy and light we put out into the night saved someone’s life. He is going to come back every Tuesday.

It is so important to remember that not everyone is as privileged as you are, not everyone has a place to live or a family that loves them. Some people live in the shadow of atrocity. They are forced to wallow in the splinters and shards of broken glass. Lift them up by sharing in the bounty, help the world be a better place, and always remember to love each other!

After we shared flowers my friend stopped at a restaurant to pick up leftover rice and beans and at a coffee shop for some bread, then dropped it off at Friends of the Night People, where they serve the homeless daily. He also saved literally 800 pounds of plantain bananas today as well, and we gleamed some persimmons.

I learned a lot about urban foraging the other day. It feels good to connect things that would have been wasted to people that need them to survive. I don’t know what I would do without my Food Not Bombs salvaged produced, it feeds me for the whole week.

The Salvage Supper Club hosts dinners in “clean decked out dumpsters”. The group of activists have thrown dumpster parties in Brooklyn, Berkely and San Franciso.

I love the idea of a fancy sit down meal made of saved food right in the dumpster to promote better waste consciousness. People need to be engaged and excited about waste prevention. Landfills are terrible for the environment. Many people are rescuing food from restaurants and grocery stores across the world.

With friends, I am currently working on a Food Not Bombs mural in the basement of the Hostel Buffalo Niagara where I work. It is fun to represent the community in this piece, I will post photos when it is complete.

Although it is monumentally important to create political art and art that sheds light on terrible things, sometimes it is refreshing to see something whimsical and fun just for the sake of being lovely. Art that is childish and kind, art that makes people smile.

Currently there is an artist installing work based on his twin four year old sons. They are incredible! 15 feet tall, sort of pixilated Rockum Sockum robots meet Lego versions of “Larger Than Life” children. It reminds us of innocence and feeling like you can accomplish anything.

Kids are born with that sense of giant wonder, they are color blind, they are confident. They must continue to be nurtured by adults who remember what it’s like to be a child.

I have seen at least 10 people walk by the window and smile, never forget how to smile. Let the sunshine into your heat and always remember to love each other fully and proudly, out in the open.

Love is free! Spread the seeds so they can grow into flowers and bloom rainbows of positivity.

Yesterday marked a historic occasion. It wasn’t just the meeting of the Canadian Prime Minister and the American President, those things happen all the time. This occasion was historic for no two leaders could be so different.

The American President is an inexperienced physically repulsive fascist classist racist misogynist who is suspected of not only tax evasion and sexual assault but also of high treason against his own country, treason, which most likely led to his current position as leader of the free world.

The Canadian Prime Minister is young, handsome, openly feminist, physically fit, and has made efforts to reconcile white Canadians with its racial and ethnic minorities. Unlike President Agent Orange, Trudeau has political experience and there is no disputing that he won his position somewhat fairly.

People watched on the edge of their seats yesterday as the two of them met.

For Canadian politicians and businessmen, the big concern was North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The Agreement was negotiated between Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, US President George H. W. Bush and President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico. It has recently become a yuge cause of worry because Cheeto Head’s electoral campaign was marked by inflammatory rhetoric branding NAFTA a bad deal that had to be renegotiated for the sake of American workers.

According to Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister and de facto Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, updating treaties is routine. On February 8, 2017 she told the CBC that NAFTA has had at least eleven updates since it came into force in January 1994. She also said that if the Americans are looking for a better deal, Canada has every intention of going on the offensive and protecting our national interests.

To everyone’s surprise, yesterday’s meeting went well. People were concerned because of Trump’s talent for bullying other men and many thought that Trudeau’s popularity and good looks would bring that out. It seems, however, that our Prime Minister knows and applied the tactic that works with all vain, self-important wealthy old men: flattery.

Trudeau presented the Orange Narcissist with something he knew he’d love: a picture of himself (with his father). By the end of the meeting the President emphasized that his issues with NAFTA were primarily about Mexico and in a joint statement he and the Prime Minister said that:

“We recognize our profound shared economic interests, and will work tirelessly to provide growth and jobs for both countries.”

This is a far cry from the words of Minister Freeland, so it’s time to look at NAFTA and what it actually says.

The Agreement’s main goal is to eliminate trade barriers and facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services between Canada, the United States and Mexico. It contains a lot of rules about intellectual property and different industries but the main issue with NAFTA seems to be regarding tariffs.

Tariffs, also known as customs duties, are taxes that must be paid on a particular class of imports or exports. The practice of imposing them serves to protect products produced domestically and helps to set the prices of certain classes of goods.

Tariffs have become a big issue because NAFTA discourages tariff use and President Agent Orange’s picks for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross Jr, and Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, are in favor of tariffs.

As per NAFTA, no party can increase existing tariffs or adopt new ones on goods produced in a member state. Parties to the Agreement also have to eliminate existing customs duties as per a schedule set in the Agreement but can consult with one another on how to speed up the process thus doing away with tariffs ahead of schedule.

Until the Orange Racist Misogynist’s picks for Commerce Secretary and Trade Representative are confirmed, no re-negotiation of NAFTA can take place. It’s therefore time to look at who these men are.

The President’s pick for Commerce Secretary is billionaire investor Wilbur Ross Jr. He is deeply critical of trade agreements, NAFTA included, and wants to impose a thirty five percent tariff on the goods of companies that send jobs overseas.

Ross is also a hypocrite for as Reuters reported, he is guilty of sending two thousand seven hundred American jobs overseas since 2004. Ross justified the move by claiming he was able to save other jobs in the process, but it nonetheless adds to his questionable reputation.

With the Orange Administration already under suspicion for links to Russian espionage, nominating Ross, who has close financial ties to the Renova Group, a conglomerate closely linked to the Kremlin does not bode well for his chances of confirmation. As Commerce Secretary, he would be responsible for the US Patent and Trade Office, the Census Bureau, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration among others, if confirmed.

Then there’s the pick for US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, a man whose last name sounds like an infomercial fitness product. Unlike Ross, Lighthizer has a lot of political experience, having served as a Reagan Administration Trade Official. He is a skeptic of free trade, advocates for increasing tariffs on imports from competitors, and if confirmed as Trade Representative, will be responsible for negotiating trade agreements and representing the US at the World Trade Organization.

Of the two men, Lighthizer is the one most likely to be confirmed with minimal conflict. It is unlikely, however, that any decisions they make will affect Canada’s obligations as per NAFTA. Canada shares the largest and least defended border with the United States and the US is our greatest trading partner.

With our Prime Minister’s charm, feminism, and message of welcome, tolerance, and inclusiveness, we look like pillars of virtue compared to our neighbors to the South and they know it. So long as Trudeau continues to fluff Cheeto-Head’s fragile ego, we can take comfort in the fact the White House won’t give any trouble, NAFTA or not, if only because standing next to us makes them look a little less awful.

On January 31, 2017 US President Cheeto-Head named Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The nomination fulfills Cheeto-Head’s promise to name a conservative justice “in the mold of Scalia” if elected president (legally or illegally). Since so much of what the Orange Racist Misogynist Tax Evader has done is questionable at best, it is time to take a serious look at the man he has appointed to the highest court in the United States.

Neil Gorsuch is in many ways the embodiment of what conservative Christian Republicans think a judge or politician should be. He is a white middle aged male who Is devoutly Christian, but not Catholic (his family are Episcopalian). He is well spoken, looks good in a suit and tie, and while he and his college sweetheart wife and two kids raise horses, chickens, and goats at their home in Colorado, they are no rednecks.

His family has a history of serving Republican presidents. Gorsuch’s mother, politician and lawyer Anne Gorsuch Burford, was appointed by former president Ronald Reagan to run the Environmental Protection Agency. For Republican climate-change deniers, Gorsuch Burford was ideal for she slashed the EPA’s budget, cut most clean water regulations from the books, and filled vital positions within the Agency with people from the very industries it was supposed to be checking. The scandals resulting from her actions led to her resignation in 1983.

Gorsuch’s resume is impressive. He is a graduate of Columbia, Harvard, and Oxford. After a couple of clerkships with conservative judges, he worked in private practice at a prestigious law firm in Washington DC for ten years and eventually ended up as a Federal Appelate Judge based in Colorado. At the same time Gorsuch has served as an occasional adjunct law professor at the University of Colorado.

There are also a lot of concerns about Judge Gorsuch.

People are worried that he is anti woman and would choose religious freedoms over people’s right to self determination.

There is a lot of evidence to support this worry.

While at Oxford, Gorsuch studied under Professor John Finnis, an Australian legal scholar who is considered an expert on natural law. After his studies, the Gorsuch and Finnis remained close. This seems harmless, but it’s not when you consider that Gorsuch’s mentor wrote about “the evil of homosexual conduct” in 1994 and has been branded a hatemonger by many.

As a judge, Gorsuch has a history of favoring religious freedoms over people’s right to health care and self determination. In the famous Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases involving for-profit corporations demanding religious exemptions from the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act requiring corporate health plans to cover contraceptives for female employees on penalty of fines for refusal, Gorsuch sided with the corporations. In the Little Sisters of the Poor decision, he wrote that it was:

“An issue that has little to do with contraception and a great deal to do with religious liberty … When a law demands that a person do something the person considers sinful, and the penalty for refusal is a large financial penalty, then the law imposes substantial burden on that person’s free exercise of religion.”

Though Gorsuch has never decided an abortion case, he did publish a book called The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in 2009 and many argue that the views expressed in it could easily transfer to abortion. In his book he says that human life is “fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

Whether this view actually extends to abortion remains to be seen, but it has caused enough concern that the National Institute for Reproductive Health has called his appointment “an extension of the Trump administration’s attack on women’s rights,” and Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted on January 31, 2017 that:

Despite his worrisome track record on certain issues, Gorsuch does show promise for two fundamental reasons.

First, he is outspokenly against excessive criminalization. That means that he thinks there are too many criminal laws punishing ordinary behavior on the books.

In 2013 he gave the 13th Annual Barbara K. Olsen Memorial Lecture in which he points out that too many laws violate people’s rights to fair notice to the point that “criminal law comes to cover so many facets of daily life that prosecutors can almost choose their targets with impunity.”

Neil Gorsuch’s legal decisions reflect this belief as he often sides with defendants in criminal cases. This bodes well when it comes to issues of race for African Americans and Hispanics are excessively targeted and prosecuted in the United States.

Another reason to hope is because of Gorsuch’s belief in the judiciary’s role in containing the excesses of Executive Power. He is in favor of term limits for elected officials because “men are not angels.”

Though, like Scalia, he believes in interpreting the constitution from the perspective of its authors. This comes with an understanding of the need to enforce the checks and balances on the legislative and executive branches to save the country from abuse by those who govern it.

Though thus far only lower courts have halted the enforcement of abusive and illegal Executive Orders from the Oval Office, Gorsuch’s reputation as a principled jurist against executive excess suggests that he would not hesitate to rule against the White House if he ascended to the Supreme Court.

Though there is hope for the United States, there is also the danger of a deadlock. Democrats are still bitter about the Senate’s refusal to confirm Judge Merrick Garland, who was named to the Supreme Court by Barack Obama. Like Garland, Gorsuch is mostly respected across party lines, so the question remains whether the Senate will do its job this time, or give the Cheeto Administration the silent treatment.

I need to take my place in the revolution.

“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m Feelin Good”

-Miss Nina Simone

I feel like shit to be honest. What does it matter? The world is about to end. All of the post apocalyptic sci-fi movies are coming to fruition. The evil dictator is in place and the people will rise after the world burns and society as we know it is overthrown.

My heart is overgrown, split ends, over bleached, and arid dry. Like the acid sky, what does it matter if I cry? Again I choose the path of positivity, moving forward, crossing things off the bucket list. I need to do me, right? NO!

It’s Black History month in the darkest time of our current social climate. I want to be there to fight for freedom and acknowledgement of hate, I want to stop the white power bullshit that raised this country to the open levels of bigotry we see today. I can’t even stop my best friend from being racist.

America the beautiful was built on the destruction of Indigenous people and slavery. Immigrants came next, but it started with human bondage, then it was a safe haven, and not much has changed.

It has just gotten worse. Strange fruit and hate fueled power struggles and world poverty. More people care about celebrities and gossip than real world issues or the idea that people and animals are suffering while we live posh lives on the internet.

My people are all Gay, they are Transgender, they are non conforming, they are Native American, they are Black, they are Muslim, they are atheist, they are butch, they are femme, they are anarchists, they are addicted, they are homeless, they are vegan, they are white people who are trying to break the cycle. They are all ages, they are sex workers, they are on food stamps, they pay rent, they don’t get paid enough and work too many hours, and they are all slaves to the system built to fail us.

I sit here with EAT THE RICH written in eye liner on my belly, dreaming of gas masks and pink tear gas. I once painted a version of Marie Antoinette with a gas mask. This is it, our reality is that we have a war to fight, we can’t just let them eat cake! I assure you, nothing about me is fake.

Or is it? I am only human. Human means flawed by nature, and not in a catholic guilt original sin way either. Imperfections make us beautiful. That also means there is a dark to every light. There is a good happening to suppress evil as we sit here contemplating the existence of both.

From this moment, our numbness from over stimulation mass sensory overload outnumbers us. It closes in on us. It interrupts us like shitty commercials. I always knew twitter was creepy. We want a leader not a creepy tweeter was one of my favorite women’s march chants.

I yearn for a silence echoing inside the roots of my strange deepness, a vacant soul on a transient descent. The train has left the yard, next stop salvation.

Why can’t adults just take naps? For me it’s not a nap. I will spend the whole day in bed and waste the light, then go out and party all night. I may not even drink, but usually do.

It’s just a craving for company. Not even in a miserable way, just in more of a we are stronger together way. I need collaboration. I know that I cannot change this world without you.

I should relish in my singledom. I can pick up and go to Mardi Gras if I want, only a 24 hour drive away. I’ve been a temptress for so long, just floating through life without a care in the world. Now it crumbles and I need to stand up.

I tend to zone out and get disconnected from reality for a moment. I watch porn when I should be watching the Young Turks. I scan Facebook when I should be out on the street protesting or having a conversation with the human next to me.

Is it weird that I have dinner with my folks twice a week at age 30? Going to a hockey game with my dad tonight, now tainted because I know the owner of the Buffalo Sabres (Terry Pegula) got his money from FRACKING.

Our Earth and water are more important than any money or sports team. I just want to spend some quality time with my dad. Having a conscience means being conscious about where your money goes.

I want to only be ethical. Other people are having children. I will get a dog. I would have to move, get a new place, buy my own house.

I would love to live in the country. No wifi. No connection to the outside world. I would feel so much more connected to nature and not the devices that rule us all.

I need my furry family, I need a solace, someone to help me fight back but not lose myself in the battle. I want to date a vegan. Musician/artist necessary. Gender/race does not matter.

Think happy thoughts. Painting, riding my tricycle, doing my hair and makeup, dressing in drag, vegan cuisine, letting my friends borrow clothes, smoking bongs, things made out of recycled things, going on adventures with the most down people, nature and natural wonders, waterfalls, art, music, musicians.

I love my kittens. There is a reason why the Egyptians worshipped cats. So cute, cuddly, and protective. I do love life, I know I come from a privilege not known to everyone, and that means I need to step up and stop being greedy.

Things I hate: Coughing so hard from hitting the bong that you pee a little. Getting up to pee and somebody is in the bathroom. When people throw out/waste food. The fact that women make less than men for the same job. The fact that donald trump has been in office for a week and the world burns, pipelines, oil, greed, orange tans.

Sometimes I cry because I have psoriasis or because I am fat. I feel unlovable, like I am hiding behind my smile, head in the clouds, not what I seem, much more deviant, but not sure how.

I am a sensitive artist. What good do my pictures really do? Do my performances matter? Yes! Even if people hate, they can relate. I can be the worst version of humanity (trump drag/Cock Sinclair) or a vision of pure loveliness veiled in makeup and fishnet, bound by a corset and all of society’s expectations, ruled by old men in suits and misguided evil rich women.

I really wanted to write something non political this week but it is all consuming. The ban on immigrants is immoral and disgusting. Pushing forward the Dakota Pipeline is also inhumane and disrespecting mother earth and the indigenous people’s land.

Water IS Life. Not in Flint Michigan or the Buffalo Public Schools, it’s second rate there. This is like the movie/comic Tank Girl. Buffalo’s freshwater is so important for the apocalypse. Great lakes, great spot, like the wet spot on the sheets that Trump had a Russian hooker piss on in the name of freedom.

Dripping in gold or rust you must wake up and shake off the nonsense. Every voice counts. Be heard.

On January 27, 2017 the President of the United States signed an Executive Order, one of his first acts as leader of the free world. Its premise is to protect Americans from the alleged threat of terrorists pretending to be refugees in order to get into the United States.

There has been a lot of discussion about this Order. Some people are calling it a Muslim ban, while others are justifying it as a legitimate and reasonable approach to American security. What no one seems to be doing is actually reading the Order itself.

Whoever wrote the Executive Order deserves a medal for literature. It is subtle and eloquent in a way the man who signed it will never be.

Does it ban Muslims outright?

No.

What the Executive Order does is suspend immigrant and non-immigrant entry into the United States from certain countries “of Particular Concern”.

Refugees from Syria are denied entry until the president says otherwise. People from countries designated by the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security as having repeatedly provided support for international terrorism are also banned, but for a period of ninety days.

This list (so far) includes Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Saudi Arabia, which is known for encouraging the extremist Islamic beliefs adopted by terrorists, is suspiciously absent from this list. Whether this is due to the President’s business dealings with the Kingdom or vested American interest in maintaining relations with them is unclear.

The Order also changes the criteria for refugee claims, prioritizing those “made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality”.

As most of the refugees are from Muslim-majority countries, most of those seeking safety in the United States are Muslim.

Though the Order says that “the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including ‘honor’ killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation”, it does not offer any protection to people fleeing persecution due to gender, sexual orientation, or race. Being a member of a religious minority seems to be the only exception to the ban.

The Order speaks of these new rules as necessary in part to “reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies”. However, it calls for a flurry of security reports to be provided by the Secretary of State, Director of Homeland Security, and the Directors of the FBI and of National Intelligence and says that the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security can admit individual refugees on a case-by-case basis. All this sounds like MORE of a burden, not less.

Is this Executive Order legal?

Not according to the former acting Attorney General Sally Yates. A holdover from the Obama administration, she was asked by the new administration to stay on until the president’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is confirmed by the Senate.

Last night, Yates told the US Department of Justice not to defend the Executive Order in the courts. In a letter to Justice Department lawyers, she said:

“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right…At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

She is not the first to acknowledge the Order as potentially illegal.

On January 28, 2017, a Federal Court in New York presided by Judge Ann Donnelly granted an Emergency Motion of Stay Removal to Hamid Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi who’d risked his life acting as interpreter to the US army during the Iraq war, and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, another Iraqi who was en route to reunite with his wife and child in the US. Both were detained at the airport under the Executive Order and with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, fought back.

In her decision, Judge Donnelly said

“The petitioners have a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal of the petitioner and others similarly situated violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”

Many other federal courts have followed suit, granting stays blocking the Executive Order from being enforced.

When you read the US Constitution, something the president has clearly never done, it is easy to understand why the motions were granted.

Article I, Section 9 prohibits laws that single out any particular group for punishment without trial. The Fifth Amendment goes even further, stating that no person should be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”.

As far back as the Second World War, American courts have recognized the danger of Executive Orders like these. In 1944 in Korematsu v. The United States, the Supreme Court said that

“All legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect… courts must subject them to the most rigid scrutiny. Pressing public necessity may sometimes justify the existence of such restrictions; racial antagonism never can.”

The President has rambled on about the danger of foreign terrorists masquerading as refugees, but neither he nor his administration have presented any numbers to back this up. Instead, he fired Sally Yates for refusing to enforce an Executive Order that is legally unenforceable, leaving his administration without anyone with the legal authority to sign warrants authorizing the surveillance of the foreigners he fears so much.

The reaction of protesters, public officials and the American courts are reasons to hope for all who hate xenophobia, for as comedian Aziz Ansari recently pointed out:

“Change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people.”

If the protests and lawsuits are any indication, change is coming.